Irish meat processor ABP Food Group has reached an agreement in principle with UK agri-food business Fane Valley Co-op to acquire the remaining 50% holding in its red-meat business, which includes Linden Foods.

Ardee, County Louth-based ABP bought a 50% stake in Linden Foods back in 2017 as part of a joint venture with Fane Valley that also included its Irish beef-processing business Slaney Foods and sheep-meat firm Irish Country Meat.

The same three businesses are included in the deal announced today (6 May).

Beef, lamb, pork and chicken processor Linden Foods, based in County Tyrone in Northern Ireland, and the two Republic of Ireland businesses will continue to operate under their respective trading names “for the foreseeable future” and the sites will continue to operate as normal, ABP said.

The financial details of the transaction have not been disclosed.

Frank Stephenson, chief executive of ABP said: “This development is the direct result of our successful joint venture arrangement, which has enabled all parties to improve their offerings to customers and to compete more effectively nationally and internationally.

“The time is now right to build on this success ensuring that we continue to be a dynamic and innovative organisation as we face into the challenges of operating in a very competitive global marketplace; whilst also addressing the ongoing challenges of changing agricultural policies, Brexit and Covid-19.”

Trevor Lockhart, chief executive of Fane Valley, said: “The Linden, Slaney and ICM businesses have progressed positively during our joint venture relationship with ABP. The trading environment however does not stand still, and all businesses need to continue to evolve and develop to maintain their competitive position in the market.

“Having reviewed the way forward with our JV partner and taking account of anticipated market developments we have jointly concluded that the future objectives for Linden, Slaney and ICM can be best achieved under a new business structure.”

ABP has processing facilities on both sides of the border in Ireland as well as in mainland UK and Poland. Linden Foods has operations in England, Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland and Belgium.